Heartland Food Business Center builds new, diverse markets for food supply chain

A new food business center at the University of Nebraska will help build resiliency in the food supply chain for consumers and producers in five states.

USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt tells Brownfield it will help create new and diverse markets for farmers in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma. “You’re busy growing your crop. You’re busy running your operation, not knowing the different resources that could be available, or the different opportunities for new supply chains, new markets that you can access. The regional food business centers will be that know-how and those expertise who are connected with USDA and connected at a local level with producers.”

UNL received a $25 million cooperative agreement from USDA to establish the Heartland Regional Foods Business Center, which is one of 12 other centers in the US. 

Lester Moffitt says the center will help streamline and provide technical assistance for several USDA programs. “They are the cornerstone and linchpin for access for those programs.”

Codirector Mary Emery with UNL says it will help assist farmers to provide locally grown foods for schools, hospitals and veterans. “To make sure they meet the inspection requirements, that they understand the way that schools and hospitals need to have the products provided and then kind of bring them together around what are the kind of mechanisms that can create these long-term relationships?”

The center has 33 partners that include representatives from K-State, Iowa State, University of Missouri and Oklahoma State University along with several regional non-profit  organizations.

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